On October 13-16, 2016, NC State University hosted the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration 2016 (SECoPA) at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel in Raleigh, NC. The theme of this conference was “Reexamining Key Relationships in American Governance”.
Dr. Jerrell D. Coggburn, Chair of Public Administration at NC State, served as conference chair. Dr. Jim Svara, visiting professor at the UNC School of Government, and Dr. Jim Brunet, associate professor at NC State, were the conference program co-Chairs. Several partner universities from the Research Triangle, including UNC Chapel Hill, NC Central, and Duke, also supported and participated in the conference.
SECoPA was established in order to facilitate the promotion of public administration research, scholarship and professionalism. The conference also aims to build relationships among professors, administrators, and students in the field. An example of this relationship-building occurred during a unique panel titled “Field Learning Experiences for MPA/MPP/MIS Students”.
Tracy Appling, External Relations and Internship Director for the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) at NC State, moderated the panel. Student panelists included Tyler Gamble (Duke), Lauren Marangi (NC State), Aundrea White (NC Central) and Ellis Johnson (UNC Chapel Hill).
The four students shared insights on their internship experiences and how to improve the internship process at the university level. After expressing their thoughts, it was more clear that field work provides an invaluable opportunity for those pursing MPA, MPP, and MIS degrees.
One clear example of internships’ benefits is employment. On that metric, Dr. Appling reported that 43% of MPA student internships led to full-time public service employment. She noted that university administrators easily understand that specific benefit of internships but stressed the importance of them recognizing other benefits from field work, as expressed by the student panelists.
This panel is just one example of the many ways SECoPA brings public administration professionals together each year. As the field of public administration grows, building and understanding key relationships is extremely important. SECoPA provided an exciting opportunity for students to explore this topic and make new connections.